PR, Marketing and Social Media – it’s all communication

Working in an agency and now in and in-house position it never ceases to amaze me the arguements that arise for and against the use of different methods of communication and which is seen to be most successful – PR, traditional marketing, digital marketing or social media.

In recent years it is not surprising that many, especially small businesses, have turned to online communication particularly social media (with varying results). It is an obvious choice when limited budgets are available and has been promoted as the method of promotion that everyone can do.

The general public who before 10 or even 5 years ago would not have been involved in marketing, other than maybe carrying a business card or putting a classified ad in the local paper, now operate with the belief that they know how to communicate to the wider public. Whether a correct assessment or not we have seen the emergence of true two-way communication with target audiences able to share their own opinions and more than willing to do so.

J.J. Colao, Forbes Staff quotes Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot , in the post, HubSpot Ready To Pounce As Traditional Marketing Gets “Obliterated” : “The Millennial generation, he says, have permanently changed the way that people expect to interact with companies and brands. Those that attempt to pass off shoddy products and customer service face the surprisingly potent wrath of social media. Netflix, he notes, likely could have gotten away with their price changes with barely a whimper 10 years ago. To adapt, companies will be forced offer value in their marketing techniques and interact directly with customers like never before.”

So what does that mean for marketing and communications strategies?

Your target audience and even those who are not considered as your audience can view, follow and make judgements about your products, brand and overall company with the ability to make comments in real time, for all the world to see.

So, with a vast majority of the population now active online making comments on the world as they see it, particularly on social media channels, it is seen as the main method of communication to reach the most people. But we have also seen in Forbes article referenced above it is also the method fraught with dangers.

The question that marketeers are now having to defend is: If you can reach so many people through online methods, without the need of a middle man – why not leave traditional methods behind?

In a Marketing Profs guest post by Margie Clayman of Clayman Advertising Margie asks: Why Are Marketers Hating on Traditional Marketing?

This is part of her answer and a comment that makes a lot of sense to me, even though with 5 years experience I am fairly new to the profession: “The only thing I can come up with is that—maybe—if you did not work in marketing before social media exploded or if you did not study marketing, traditional concepts may seem intimidating. Folks who seem to be “gurus” on social media may not really feel that they can come out and say, “Gosh, I don’t really understand this.” And so, alternative realities are created.”

Referring to the second half of that quote, I work on social media everyday, analyse, reasearch, develop strategies and compile content, but I would not call myself an expert. Things change so quickly online that you would need to constantly study it to be an expert.

Although I may seem sceptical, I agree with Ted Mininni’s observation made by GroupM in a post about brands needing an online presence, “The Internet affords consumers with easy access to information, and interaction with companies, whether they purchase from a web site or not. Internet use continues to grow in popularity, thus, the study concluded marketers ignore having a cyber presence at their own peril.”

The problem is if you put too much effort or focus on one means of communication you run the risk of ignoring and alienating large proportions of your potential audience.  Adarsh Thampy, conversionchamp.com talks about just this in his post Is traditional marketing dead? “Assuming you live in a perfect world where all of your customers use the same medium, understand your marketing message thoroughly, and is happy to get involved with your cause via the same medium, content marketing maybe the only marketing ever left. But, the world we know is far from being perfect. Not everyone likes to be engaged via social media, not all of your customers are searching for a solution online, and not everyone is consuming high value content via your blog or video streaming sites.”

So, the question is, if all brands NEED an online presence and putting too much focus on online communication could alientate some of your audience what are the best tools to promote your brand?

In my opinion – All of them!

Remember that PR, marketing, traditional and online including social media are all methods of communications and just as learning styles differ from person to person, the way people like to be supplied with information and news also changes. Most people now take in information from lots of different sources and talk about all when using their preferred social media channel, but, spreading your brand too thinly is just as much of a threat as over focusing in one area.

Make sure you research and review the aims of your campaign, focus on know what your messages are and know who your audience is.

When you know what you are trying to do, what you need/want to say and who you are saying it to you can work out how best to send them the information. Integrate your strategies for your different tools and draw them in as they relate to the strategy.
Don’t get me wrong all plans can change but knowing what you aim to do from the beginning will help you constantly assess the situation and alter your activity as needed.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Martin
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 08:23:56

    Completely agree Amy. It’s a combination thing. Focus on one area and you could be missing opportunities in another. That’s why it’s important to monitor and measure the success of each method, know your market and how to reach them. Well written and well said 🙂

    Reply

  2. Trackback: It’s all a matter of opinion « amyjbell

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